Fine Particulate Matter (PM2.5) Annual Primary Standard Strengthened from 15 micrograms per cubic meter (15 μg/m3) in 1997 to 12 μg/m3 in 2012.

Effective December 14, 2012:

  1. 2012 Annual PM2.5 Standard
    a. Primary standard of 12 μg/m3, annual arithmetic mean averaged over 3 years
    b. Secondary standard of 15μg/m3, annual arithmetic mean averaged over 3 years (no change from the 1997 secondary standard)
  2. 2012 24-hr PM2.5 Standard (no change from the 2006 24-hr standard)
    a. Primary standard of 35μg/m3, 98th percentile averaged over 3 years of the 24-hour rolling average.
    b. Secondary standard same as primary standard

The Cleveland-Akron-Lorain Combined Statistical Area (CSA) is currently designated “in attainment with a maintenance plan,” or “maintenance,” based on the 1997 annual (15μg/m3) and 2006 24-Hr (35μg/m3) PM2.5 standards. On October 5, 2011, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (Ohio EPA) submitted a redesignation request to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) for the Cleveland-Akron-Lorain CSA regarding the 1997 annual standard. On May 30, 2012, Ohio EPA submitted a redesignation request to US EPA for the same area regarding the 2006 24-hr standard. On September 18, 2013, the US EPA redesignation for the area took effect; Cleveland-Akron-Lorain CSA’s status changed from “non-attainment” to “maintenance.” Annual PM2.5 average levels for Northeast Ohio counties during 2010-2012 are shown in the map.

PM 2.5 Final Rule

 On January 15, 2013 the more stringent 2012 Annual PM2.5 final rule was accepted by the Federal Register (USEPA adoption of this standard was effective December 14, 2012) to further protect human health from particulate pollution. With the adoption of the new 2012 annual PM2.5 standard, the Ohio EPA proposed nonattainment areas on October 30, 2013. The public was granted the opportunity to make comments on said proposal until December 5, 2013. The USEPA is to finalize its designations by August 14, 2014.

Which counties are impacted by the 2012 PM2.5 standard?

Ohio EPA submitted a draft of recommended non-attainment areas to US EPA on December 13, 2013. The only county within the Cuyahoga-Akron-Lorain CSA recommended as non-attainment was Cuyahoga. However, US EPA may designate the surrounding counties as non-attainment areas because of the regional nature of air pollution. US EPA final designations are expected August 14, 2014.

How does the 2012 PM2.5 standard impact people?

US EPA strengthened the 1997 annual PM2.5 standard of 15μg/m3 to the new 2012 PM2.5 standard of 12μg/m3. This strengthening of the fine particulate standard is in response to strong scientific evidence demonstrating benefits to human health.

To ensure the NOACA region is well informed of air quality levels in their region, NOACA continues to conduct daily air quality forecasting and also issues air quality alerts when PM2.5 levels exceed standards considered acceptable for public health.

Does the 2012 PM2.5 standard impact business?

Businesses may be impacted, depending upon the USEPA’s final county designations. The extent of these impacts shall be clarified in future implementation guidance provided by the USEPA.

Timeline to attain the standard

According to U.S. EPA, our region is to attain the 2012 annual PM2.5 standard by 2020.

Contributing to lower PM2.5 emissions will be the conversion of the two largest coal burning utilities in our region to reactive power and natural gas in the near future. Other contributing factors to the lowering of PM2.5 concentrations will be through Best Available Control Technologies (BACT), Reasonable Available Control Measures (RACM), the State Implementation Plan (SIP), and NOACA’s Transportation Plan (Plan) and Transportation Improvement Program (TIP).

What does NOACA do to reduce fine particulates?

NOACA contributes to the achievement of air quality standards through the selection and implementation of transportation projects and air quality outreach initiatives that contribute to reductions in local/regional emissions. These air quality projects/programs are funded through the investment of Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) Program funds. Examples of projects/programs funded by CMAQ in the NOACA region are improved traffic signalization, transit enhancements, diesel engine retrofits, bus replacements, bicycle and pedestrian facilities, Ohio Rideshare, guaranteed ride home, anti-idling and vehicle replacement programs.

Non-attainment counties are also eligible for grants through the United States Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Clean Cities Program, Ohio EPA’s Diesel Emission Reduction Grant Program (DERG) and Ohio EPA’s Clean Diesel School Bus Fund Retrofit Grants Program.

Last updated: 3/30/2017 12:44:01 PM